Film Study: LaFleur's Playbook - Diverging Routes

We find ourselves in the middle of a series, you and I. I don't want to step on what we'll be looking at next week, but it fits in nicely with this concept and the one we looked at last week. This week isn't a groundbreaking concept as much as it is an idea that can be applied to a number of different concepts. Let's get to it.

We'll get to the rest of the routes in a minute, but I wanted to focus on the action on the right side, so that's where we'll start. We've got a stacked receiver look (two receivers lined up close to each other, with one lined up slightly behind the other), with one running a deep post and the other running a deep out-and-up. Underneath, we have the in-line tight end running a flat route. The flat route can work to pull a defender up, opening space behind.

On the other side, we have the receiver running a comeback route over a flat route from the running back. Against a single-high look, the comeback route and the post route put the defender in a tough spot: who is he picking up? If he shades towards the comeback route, the post is open, and vice versa. 

The Cowboys end up falling back into Cover 2 on this play so that aspect doesn't come into play here, but it's something to keep in mind when this is run in the future.

Watch those receivers on the right. They get different releases - one to the inside, one to the outside - but they're both pushing up the field and attacking that safety. They push for about 15 yards before splitting. It's a bit of a follow concept, but without actually following. They're pressuring one point of the defense, then splitting of when the defender is forced to commit. 

What Could This Look Like in Green Bay

We're rolling with 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers). 

Wide Receivers: Equanimeous St. Brown [19] is the front man in the stack, with Davante Adams [17] as the under man. I went back and forth on this, but ultimately landed on this alignment because of Adams' route running and ability to turn his defender. That turn to the sideline could be huge for a guy with Adams' ability to turn his defender around. If he sells that out route, a violent turn upfield has the ability to spring this for a big play. That was the kicker for me. I considered putting Marquez Valdes-Scantling [83] as the front man, but I wanted him on the other side. I believe he's going to have a break-out season, so I wanted to make sure some attention was drawn to his comeback route. With his speed and that route pushing hard up the field, there's a chance the safety could shade to that direction, allowing St. Brown the freedom to get over the top of the safety on the post.

Tight End: I want to use the tight end to help spread the field in the variations, so I've got Robert Tonyan [85] in. The flat route is important here - it can pull up the defense and allow for some space to the receiver behind it - but any tight end on the roster could run that route.

Running Back: I do this every week. It's Aaron Jones [33] because he's clearly the best running back on the roster and we're talking about passing concepts. If we're looking for power running, I would likely go in another direction. Or maybe I wouldn't. Aaron Jones is still Aaron Jones.

What Could the Packers Do With This

Variation 1

This is basically the same thing as the original play, but with St. Brown looping under Adams at the snap and running the out-and-up while Adams runs the post. Is this particularly inventive? Not really, but it's different enough to cause some confusion. I also like the looping under of Adams motion, in that it could work as a rub in man-to-man situations. 

Variation 2

I've been waffling on this one. Do I love it? Hate it? Tolerate it? I don't know! Every minute is different. Thank you for riding this rollercoaster with me.

We've got Tonyan stretching the field on the post in this version. I've got him pushing out off the line, which puts three receivers pushing upfield in fairly close proximity to each other. We've still got Adams running an out-and-up, but this one has him running a corner route, away from the post. St. Brown pushes out at the snap and under the route from Adams. The breaks come at about the same place, with St. Brown running a comeback route under the route from Adams. All of this is intended to stress the coverage to that side.

If the defense comes out in Cover 2 (or a two-high alignment), we can spread the safeties with the routes pushing up the field on either side while Tonyan splits the middle. If the defense comes out in Cover 3 (or a single-high alignment), we've got them all occupied with Valdes-Scantling on the left, Tonyan in the middle and either Adams or St. Brown on the right. If the safety crashes down on St. Brown, Adams gets over the top. If the safety sits back for Adams, St. Brown has space underneath.

I have also moved Jones to releasing to the right. With the two deep routes to that side, I need something to keep the shallow defense honest. All I'm looking for out of Valdes-Scantling is to occupy a safety, so I can ditch the flat route to that side.

Variation 3

Let's introduce some motion to the mix and stress that right side of the defense a little more. Tonyan moves out pre-snap to create a bunch formation. At the snap, both Tonyan and Adams push out, mirroring each other's release before splitting 7 yards down the field. Tonyan hits the seam while Adams pushes towards the sideline. We get a nice bit of crossing action, and they're spaced enough apart after that to not get everything clogged up down the field. Ah, the beauty of a tight formation.

St. Brown is on the post, but I've got it running slightly more horizontal. It's a spacing thing: with Tonyan running up the seam, I don't want a huge vertical push from the post. I need there to be a little space between them. 

I've also changed Valdes-Scantling from a comeback to a dig. If the safety shades down on Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown can get over the top. If the safety sits back on St. Brown, Valdes-Scantling should have some room on the dig.

Lastly, Jones is running an angle route out of the backfield. It helps pulls up the linebackers a little to open up the dig from Valdes-Scantling and also gives Rodgers a late checkdown option. With everything pushing down the field on the right, if those are covered up it likely means there's room underneath.

Albums listened to: Radiohead - In Rainbows; Rose Blossom Punch - Sorry to Disappoint You; The Appleseed Cast - The Fleeting Light of Impermanence; Josh Ritter - Bringing in the Darlings; Ingrid MIchaelson - Stranger Songs


Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or email at [email protected].

3 points

Comments (3)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lare's picture

July 04, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Nice job Dusty. I think the Packers have the personnel to make these plays successful.

2 points
ejr450's picture

July 04, 2019 at 05:50 pm

I like 3 best of the options. Might have 33 chip and release, just to offset the 5 man protection.

I think EQ would be open on the post especially if MVS can clear with the dig.

1 points
Springer's picture

July 05, 2019 at 05:23 am

Agreed. These are some long developing routes. Having an extra blocker some of the time might be necessary.

0 points